a time to live, a time to die

My friend Francis is dying. Big, gruff, hard living, hard drinking, hard driving Francis is dying of stomach cancer and there is nothing that I or anyone else can do.

He found out about the cancer in April. He thought it was indigestion. Since then, it's been one round of bad news after another. It has spread. It's in your stomach AND esophagus. It's in your liver. It's in your kidneys. It has spread to your brain.

He is in the hospital, now. He won't come home anymore. Monday they are going to move him to a hospice. To wait. It won't take long.

I met Francis years ago, when Annie was working parttime at our library and had become friends with Carol, who was working there, as well. Annie and Carol had become such friends, such very good friends, it was inevitable that our two families should become close. And we met. And we were (and are) such total opposites we became friends immediately. Even as opposites we had things in common - baseball, football, rum and beer. And that was enough to start with. That was enough to begin to build a friendship.

Francis is a truck driver. An over-the-road brownshirt (UPS driver). He drove triples back and forth to Ohio from Illinois every night. Actually, he'd drive a double into Indiana and pick up a third trailer there, to take into Ohio. And then drop one off in Indiana on his way back. Triple are illegal in Illinois. His schedule was so weird we wouldn't get to see each other but once or twice a month, if that. But that was enough. It never felt like we needed to 'catch up'. We never lamented the fact that we didn't get to spend much time together. That would have been a waste of what time we did have. So we would just pick up where we left off.

Someday, when it's my turn, we'll meet up. Francis, with his white moustache, his deep gruff voice, his big strong hands. We'll meet up, and pick up right where we left off.


Honeybell said...

Losing a friend is so hard, hold on to those memories. I wish him a peaceful, painless passing.

Queen Goob said...

That was beautiful and I know you mean the world to each other. He'll be waiting to catch up right were you left off with a smile on his face and a beer in his hand.

Alice said...

I get nervous thinking about death because I've made it 37 years without losing anyone really close to me. I can feel it around the corner and I think I will fall apart.

Peace for you and your friend Francis.

Rebecca said...

I'm so sorry to hear that your friend is so sick.

Sandy C. said...

I am so sorry to hear about Francis. May you treasure those memories always. And may his final days be peaceful, surrounded by loved ones.

warriorwoman said...

That's really sad Lou.
When I was in Ireland last year, I learned that they say, of someone who had died, that "he got his wings".
I thought it was a nice way of looking at the process of life and death, since we cannot change it.

In my world, death is not death, but rather the catipillar/butterfly. We leave the body behind and go home to heaven.

You will see him again, when you get your wings.

redchair said...

My heart goes out to you Lou. Remember to request ‘he saves you chair.’ He’ll like that. I have someone saving one for me and I look forward to seeing him again. And remember that sometimes when friends go, they sometimes linger. They just want to make sure everyones okay. He’ll leave you signs.

Hyphen Mama said...

I hope you tell him, at least one more time, how much he has meant to you in this life. Passing from this life to the next is only hard on the ones left behind. For them, it's graduation.

I am so sorry for his family and friends who will be left behind.

Eve Grey said...

A very beautiful tribute to your friend.

Kelley said...

oh Lou. My thoughts are with your wonderful friend, and of course the amazing friend he has in you.

the planet of janet said...

i'm so sorry, lou. i know this must hurt.


Myst_72 said...

So sorry Lou.
My thoughts are with you, and Francis, and your families.


calicobebop said...

A heartbreakingly wonderful tribute to your friend. My thoughts are with your two families.

Elizabeth said...

I'm sorry about your friend. My prayers are with you guys. *hugs*

Lady Language said...

I wish you and his family peace and strength during this time. I am all too familiar with hospice and the situation and hope you get to spend some time with your friend before he passes. My thoughts are with you and take care of yourself and your friend's family.

nicole said...

That just sucks :(
I hope he'll have enough Rum wherever he goes next...!

witchypoo said...

While I'm certain that you will meet up again, my thoughts are with those left behind for the now.
A lovely tribute, Lou.